Mohammed Siraj's demolition of Sri Lanka in Sunday's Asia Cup final has brought to the fore India's bowling strength but their batters will call the shots in the World Cup.
So thinks former Pakistan captain Mohammad Yousuf, a veteran of 90 Tests and 288 ODIs. The right-hander is best remembered for a prolific 2006 when he became the most successful batter ever in a calendar year — 1788 runs with nine hundreds in 11 Tests, eclipsing Vivian Richards' 30-year-old record.
Yousuf, now associated with Pakistan's National Cricket Academy in Lahore, cites India's top-order led by Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli as the reason behind his belief. He also feels the conditions will suit the batters.
"India have a few experienced world-class batters in Virat and Rohit. Don't forget Virat has the second-most International hundreds in the world after Sachin (Tendulkar). That says a lot about him. He derives a lot of josh from India-Pakistan contests... Maybe any big match for that matter and it reflects in his performance," Yousuf told The Telegraph from Lahore.
"I am amazed by Virat's fitness and his running between the wickets. He converts the singles into twos with ease. The way he moves around on the field is intimidating and creates problems for the opposition," Yousuf said.
"Rohit controls the innings at the top and I have been very much influenced by Shubman Gill's performance. He is a class act and promises big things for the future. Technically, he is one of the best in the business and can adjust his game to meet the demands of the situation. That's the hallmark of a great player."
KL Rahul's century on return against Pakistan has also firmed Yousuf's belief.
"India have also benefited immensely from the return of Rahul. The way he batted on his comeback made everyone believe that he never took a break. He too is technically sound. Such a line-up cannot fail often. The enormity of the occasion will bring out the best in the batters," Yousuf remarked.
"But I have been very motivated and influenced by (Hardik) Pandya's performance. He is more of a batting all-rounder than a bowling all-rounder.
"I don't know why people say India lack all-rounders. Look at Pandya, he is a match-winner. He can carry the innings and also run through any batting with the ball. What else do you need?
"It's a seasoned team because most of them play Test cricket too. So they play together the whole year and that helps in finding the right mojo," Yousuf said.
Surgery for Southee
Auckland: Senior New Zealand fast bowler Tim Southee is set to undergo surgery on his injured right thumb on Thursday and a call on his availability for the ODI World Cup in India will be takennext week.
Southee broke and dislocated his right thumb while attempting to take a catch in the fourth ODI against England last week.
New Zealand’s Tim Southee. File photo
New Zealand head coach Gary Stead is hopeful that the 34-year-old seamer will recover in time for the Black Caps’ opening game in the showpiece event on October 5.
“We’ve got our fingers crossed. Hope the surgery goes well for Tim,” Stead said.
“He’ll have some pins or screws inserted in his right thumb, and provided the procedure is a success, it will be a matter of ensuring Tim can tolerate the pain and manage the actual wound when returning to train and play.”
New Zealand face Pakistan and South Africa in the World Cup warm-up games onSeptember 29 and October 2, respectively.